Stick With Your Own Kind: Those Backlinks Are Not Your Friend

In the modern world, we want to be open to anyone and everything. As a small business owner you never want to alienate a potential lead. It’s your gut reaction to make sure your site is viewable, as approachable, and as big as it possibly could be.

That’s what scrapers are counting on.

Most of my clients are great business owners that are new to the net. Or, they know how to check their email but they don’t run their own WP dashboard. Not all mind you, but most. These powerful business owners have way too many other things on their plate to know what a backlink is, let alone what it means for them.

So when I give the broad overview that ‘backlinks are like votes and Google counts backlinks as a vote for your site’, they get it. When I go into why some backlinks are bad, I lose part of my audience.

Here’s an extended explanation of why some backlinks are bad:

1. If you paid for a backlink, generally it is either bad or it is worthless. For example, when you buy a text ad or a backlink pack from a website, chances are that one of two things is going to happen:

a. The link is a “nofollow”: which means Google will see the backlink, but it won’t count as a full vote or a vote at all. Google knows about paid links and often ignores them. This is not a vote in the true sense of the word. It’s the same reason politicians can’t just pay people outside the voting booth. It’s not genuine, it’s not real, and it doesn’t do anything for you link juice wise. Though it could have other effects.

b. As soon as you stop paying the monthly fee, the link disappears. This is very common for sites that sell backlinks as a service. It’s shady, but it’s the truth. So if you work with a company that gives you 50 links a month for $X then you stop paying, those links generally go away.

2. If the link doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t help you. For example, here is a site that just loves to scrap our content. Can you see the problem with this picture?

Obviously, this site is sending us backlinks or trackbacks as a way to bolster their SEO or traffic. Think of it like high school: if Content Equals Money was sitting at the “cool kids table”, these sites are trying to sit at our table. They are trying to associate themselves with us in the eyes of Google.

When I open my WP dashboard and I see loads of trackbacks or backlinks to spam sites, I send them to spam immediately. Here’s why:

1. Google takes a much more holistic view of your link profile and online presence then ever before and it is only getting worse (or I would say better.) So if you associate with these sites, you can get some of their bad mojo on you. It’s the same reason that Build My Rank got hosed. It’s the same reason why you shouldn’t leave comments on sites that have nothing to do with your industry.

2. It lowers the user experience of my site. This is both the biggest motivation for me and the reason behind #1. If you go to a website, read one of their blogs and scroll down you often can see their list of comments, trackbacks, pingbacks, etc. Your ability to view this is up to the webmaster but, if you can see them, you can see generally where they are from and what the surrounding text of the link says.

Imagine if you are a business owner that sells dog treats and you have a lively blog with tons of traffic and you just can’t resist the potential link love of these trackbacks so you let them sit. Your site visitor may read your blog, love it, scroll down for other resources and find a product you don’t sell. If you don’t sell this product, your site visitors will take notice. Google can also see this and consider your site as spam, thusly lowering your site ranking.

That is why you must stick with your own kind.

I’m not saying you can’t interact with sites outside your industry; far from it. Every normal person has a multitude of interests and they can all be pursued online. However, when you are using your site’s URL for anything at all (registrations, comments, social sharing, etc), you should limit yourself to your industry. Otherwise, it confuses people and confused people can lead to a bad user experience which Google penalizes.

So at the end of the day, when you see your WP dashboard full of spam sites, just spam them. 

This article originally appeared on Content Equals Money and has been republished with permission.

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